Even with the best intentions, uncountable “starting tomorrow”s, and a weekly trip to the farmer’s market, it’s tough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I wind up off schedule and derailed all too easily. Sound familiar?
I reached out to friend, registered dietitian, marathon runner, and soon-to-be mama, Crystal Higgins for some tips on staying healthy in the chaos that is life. While Crystal manages to live the epitome of healthy lifestyle, she’s used to working with patients who aren’t quite in that boat. Whether they’re at risk from being in an unhealthy weight class, or preparing for an upcoming surgery, Crystal is well versed on making nutrition attainable, and even enjoyable.
We know it all comes down to lifestyle, but big changes can be a lot easier said than done. What are some simple adjustments women can make in diet and habits that will make big changes? It seems so daunting!
Yes – the good news is that we are all capable of a few simple changes to improve our health no matter what our background is! Planning ahead and altering your environment to work for you, rather than against you is by far the most important thing that women can do. No matter how good your intentions may be to eat well, if you don’t have the necessary ingredients or healthy foods on hand, this will be very difficult.
Here’s 3 simple tips to start implementing ASAP:
1. Get organized right after grocery shopping. Don’t put those veggies in the crisper where you’ll forget about them. Wash and chop, or even portion out some of them out into little baggies right away. Make healthy foods convenient, accessible and have them at eye level.
2. Pack a back-up snack. We all get busy and sometimes our day can escape us and we end up HANGRY. This can lead to poor choices or overeating. Portable snacks I use: almonds, trail-mix, Quest, Simply or Lara Bars. Eat something every 3-5 hours.
3. Love Chocolate? My friends know me as the dessert-loving dietitian. The trick to treats, is to have them frequently, but in moderation. Buy dark chocolate regularly, but limit yourself to a few large squares a day.
Supplements can get so confusing, not to mention incredibly expensive. Along with a varied diet, what supplements do you suggest to women between the ages of 25 and 35?
Living in Vancouver, I recommend that everyone should take Vitamin D daily, even in the summer. There are only a handful of foods that contain vitamin D (e.g.:salmon & milk) and most of us wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and wrinkles. Other than that, there’s not much evidence for taking multivitamins. Other considerations would be:
1. Calcium: Dairy is a controversial topic these days and many women have cut it out of their diets. This makes obtaining sufficient calcium a challenge unless you’re eating loads of dark greens, beans, tofu or calcium fortified foods.
2. Iron: Vegans/vegetarians and endurance athletes. Get your bloodwork tested before taking any iron supplements
3. Folic Acid: If you are planning to become pregnant, start taking this before you conceive in order to prevent birth defects (spina bifida).
You’re passionate about trying new, healthy recipes. What’s your of-the-moment favourite snack you like to have on hand?
Salted. Caramel. Energy Bites….need a say more?
These are a great alternative to packaged snacks. Store them in the fridge or freezer for up to 3 months, but I’m sure they won’t last that long.
Hectic schedules are a big contributor to our bad choices. How do you plan ahead? What snacks do you suggest? Any tips and tricks?
As I mentioned initially, planning ahead is the most important thing we can do to improve our nutrition. Naturally, I’m always thinking about food (it’s my job after all!), but this does not mean that you need to constantly think about your every food-move. We’ve all seen the Instagram-pics or crazy Pintrest people that meal plan for an entire week of food all at once. As inspiring as this is, I don’t think it’s realistic for most people.
Here’s my solution: Cook once, but eat 2-3x from that meal.
Making chicken for dinner? Why not make enough for lunch and dinner the next day. You can re-purpose this into a salad, taco or soup.
Chopping veggies for a salad? Why not chop the whole pepper or broccoli and save half of it for a stir-fry the next day or use it for a snack with hummus or guacamole.
SNACK ATTACK! As a general rule, focus on protein and fibre-rich foods as this combo will keep you fuller longer. Some of my favourite snacks are: plain greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries, pistachios with sliced oranges, snap peas and baby carrots with hummus, peanut butter (or PB2 powdered peanut butter) with banana and dark chocolate. There’s also 3-ingredient chocolate turtles made with medjool dates, pecans and drizzled dark chocolate. Boom-Chicka-Pop popcorn is also a calorie friendly salty-snack.
On weeknights it’s just my boyfriend and me, but I find he’s not satisfied with a protein-packed salad or veggie puree soup without a hearty piece of bread alongside. How do you navigate this with your husband? Any suggestions for not putting on the boyfriend weight?
I guess I’m lucky that my husband will eat and appreciate everything I make. That said, I certainly realize that not every guy is like this and boys can feel deprived without their favourite comfort foods. My best piece of advice is to practice portion control. Whether it’s pizza, mac & cheese or burgers, you can indulge too, but be sure to keep the portions reasonable (try eating slower!) and complement the meal with some lower-calorie foods such as salad, soup or cooked veggies. Keep the portions of these calorie dense foods to no more than half of your plate. The remaining half should come from plants. Consider grilling zucchini and asparagus on the BBQ while you wait for your pizza to arrive. Order the thin-crust and make your carbs whole grains where possible. Use the small soft corn tortillas instead of the hard shell type tacos.
What’s a great hearty fall favourite that doesn’t constitute cheating?
I love to take advantage of seasonal food where possible.
Thanks, Crystal! Happy healthing everyone xx